Online sales are roaring ahead even as Apple’s lead crumbles

Marc Sidwell
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APPLE shares are a less certain bet than they used to be, with stock in the iPhone maker down 44 per cent since last September. Further volatility is anticipated around its results announcement on Tuesday, but several sets of figures out today confirm the lively health of the tech sector overall.

Research from Barclays reveals the UK’s online firms are growing fifty times faster than the rest of the economy, an extraordinary achievement against a background of crisis in the Eurozone and stagnation at home.

John Lewis also said yesterday that it has passed £1bn in online sales a year ahead of schedule, not just showing how to get online right but also proving that the no-growth norm taking hold across too much of flatline Britain is not inescapable.

The BRC research (above) on the rise and rise of online retail searches reveals that John Lewis is in part benefiting from being in the right sectors at the right time: while total retail searches were up by a healthy enough 16 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago, homewares searches were up more than twice as much: 34 per cent.

The BRC figures also reveal how the ability of the internet to overcome distance is creating new growth opportunities for British retailers, with the number of Brazilian consumers searching for UK retailers in the first quarter of the year up by 73 per cent on 2012. Only India of the four so-called Bric emerging economies showed a small decline in searches of 3 per cent. Despite a big bite out of Apple, tech has plenty of growth potential left.